In fact, while I'm at it, what the hell is up with LJ and their blocking YouTubes?! That really pisses me off. At one point in time it looked like they were going to enable them, but now it doesn't. I know they have they're own LJ video service. I've got 50GB of it, but what kind of stupid shit move is it to block YouTubes?! I'm not really going to download and repost these videos so they play on the page. Besides, the LJ servers are so fucking slow they couldn't possibly host video for the entire LJ community. I'm not even sure they can do enough for just me!
I got a promotion recently and I'm looking at possibly another one with a move as a bonus. This of course meant more money, but that's not the point of this post. Just a little back story as to why I was looking into such an investment. I've always been a hardware and software connoisseur, can't get enough of it. I'm the type that'll upgrade because he can and spend 90% of the rest of my time lusting over new hardware and software. Which brings me to the point of my post.
In my searches for upgrades I've just decided to build a new computer, and I can finally afford myself a pretty manly unit. So here is what I'm lusting after at this moment.
XFX Geforce 7950 GX2 XXX Extreme Edition (or GX2OC for short) W/ 1GB DDR3 memory, PCI-E 16X.
This bad boy is effectively one video card with two cores, probably the first attempt at a multicore video card and a quad SLI solution to date. I've never been big on SLI, I love the idea and back in the day when 3DFX owned the technology I had myself a Voodoo 2 SLI for 3D and a S3 crappy-card for a 2D solution. But when GPU's became a hot topic for SLI'ers I just lost interest. That is until they pulled out this card solution, don't need a SLI board, and I certainly don't need to buy another card. Given it's 680 dollars, but to take the equivalent cards in their non-plural form and purchase them separately that would be almost an additional 100 dollars, not to mention another 100 dollar expenditure for the dual 16X PCI-E capable board. The only complaint I have with this card is the close proximity design it uses, which means you'll be pushing 60C-75C temps all the time. Which brings me to my next item of lust...
ThermalTake SmartFan 2 Products.
Anyone seen these things? These things are ridiculous, they rival some people's bedroom fans! How about a 75 CFM fan that is only 80MM?! I'm planning on sticking 3 of these puppies in my case, and a 96CFM 120MM version in the back. 320+ CFM total! Some people complain about noise, but I don't care. My computer can sound like a hair dryer, I just don't care! I mean, what do you think? Are you so picky as to choose a silent fan (30CFM) versus a louder fan with a higher CFM? I mean the translation is that the case's air supply is circulated every .4 seconds, which mean that the ambient temperature (the temperature that does the most damage thermal dynamically.) is non-existent.
Case air flow design has always been a concern for me. Seriously, these days it is like some manufacturers don't give a crap at all. They throw in a front fan, and mount the hard drives in the back? Why would you do that! I personally mount my hard drive as follows.
The temperature of the HDD's very discs can change the performance of a computer. Which is for example one of the factors that brought Microsoft to put the HDD on the outside of the X Box 360. Hard drives are a continuous source of heat and power drain. So why not knock it out as a problem source right at the beginning and mount the fan blowing fresh cold air across the HDD! By reducing the external temperature of the hard drive's casing you lower the chances of it's hot internal temperatures soaking through it's surfaces and into the air. Another rule of thumb is front to back general air flow inside the case. There are less things to create temperature change in the front versus the back. I was recently servicing a Dell computer at a GS4 district recently, the front fan was blowing out and the back fan was blowing out as well. Where the hell was the air coming from then? Who knows, but I do know I was there to replace the CPU fan. Why? Because they used a funnel on it, the air created by the suction of the two front and rear fans in combination with the slight gap between the mother board and the plastic air funnel was enough to create a draft. This draft in turn made the outward blowing funnel fan suffer drag and create friction against the electrical current driving it. This lowered the fan's life at a rate that probably isn't even measurable. Someone must not have been paying ANY attention when building this computer.
Some people are blessed enough to have a side fan blowing into their case, but these things can be just as bad as they are good. Most of the people I know do this, even I do this (but I'll show you how to get around the problems it causes.) Most of the time when going to customer's sites or troubleshooting temperature issues in gamer rigs I see the following circumstances unfold.
1. The user has their case pushed back up against a wall. Which forced exhaust from the power supply and rear exhaust fan blowing hot air into a small tight space. This no doubt curves around the front of the case and directly into the side port of their case. This creates a environment where one's PC continually get's hotter and hotter over time.
2. Their side fan is used as an exhaust which diverts suction from the rear fan creating this still void inside their case. Usually right around the ram and the CD-ROMs, this over time raises case temperature and slows the system down at a memory and interface level (which feeds those powerful video cards and CPUs.)
3. The side fan is pressed up against the wall which forces it to simply stir the air inside. Technically stirring the air would be enough to excite the heat out of it, but not when the hot air that is being agitated is surrounded by more HOT AIR hehe.
So I came up with a GHETTO solution to this problem. I have two intakes on the side of my case, luckily they are even with each other so this project is simple. I went downstairs and found a fridge pack of diet cokes. Put all the cokes in the fridge and cut the box lengthwise into a 1/4th original sized slice. Got a bunch of duct tape (yes I said it! DUCT TAPE! LoL) and taped this cut of my box onto the side of my case over my fans. I made sure that the back end is taped off and the front end is pointing towards the front of the case. This way the side fans pull the same air that the front fan does, this in most cases drops the temperature inside considerably (15C in my situation.) It will also prolong the life of your rig, heat is the enemy! Even if it looks ghetto hehehe.
Another rule often overlooked, and this is a two part rule. Suction is key to good cooling. I have a lot of geeky friends, God bless them, but they aren't always paying attention to things. For example I have one friend who I will call Joshua. Now Joshua has severe overheating problems, so what he does is removes the side of his case. This worked fine back when we were all using 486's, but not now. Just because the case is open doesn't mean the cold air from the room is going to rush in and cool it off. I have another friend who put a full size box fan on his computer to cool it, which seems like a good idea. Until he noticed he was having issues, because 10 dollar box fan's aren't always magnetically sealed to keep from pouring EMI and EMF into the mother board causing massive damage and disruptions. So I recommend entirely, seal every hole! Even those expansion slot covers, make sure you cover those holes. The only holes in a computer case should be filled with fans! Another thing, if the spot is designed for a 120MM fan, putting a 80mm fan in it isn't going to do crap. Chances are, the airflow around the outside of the 80mm fan will be just as much going in than out.
The second part to this rule is the rear fan must be larger than the front fan. For one good reason, heat will expand the air coming in, a 80MM exhaust fan will only bottleneck your cooling solution causing massive heat pockets to build around your power supply. So to avoid this, use 120MM + fan solutions and a power supply with a built in fan solutions. Also wouldn't hurt to bundle your wires out of the way, and to also use round cabling.
I personally run this fan configuration.
-Front fan 80MM, blowing in across my hard drives.
-Two 80mm side case fans blowing in, on my video card, north bridge and south bridge interfaces.
-1 120 MM fan blowing out center back, directly beside my CPU and above my video card.
-120 MM fan blowing out from the power supply, sucking excess heat from above the CPU.
-1 40MM fan blowing out from between the power supply and cd-roms.
Also when I say perfect cooling solution I discount water cooling. Most people can't keep up with their virus updates, let alone their water cooling status. But if you're savvy enough by all means go for it. I just move my rig too much for me to consider as an option. If you put a fan at the top of your case, I'd consider using a 40MM fan. Otherwise you will detract from the overall pressure of the air flow below. This will really lower your overall CFM displacement rate and cause your temperature to go up instead of down. I might go as far to say that a 40MM fan between the CD-ROM and the PW would be sufficient enough to drain rising heat. If you lack a hole, try a 40MMx2 bay fan. You can find them for about 10 dollars these days.
Also, if you want to cheapen the load of your current fans heatwise. Give the heat no functional space. One way to do this is to move all your CD-ROMS to the top of the case. Less space up top, less heat that can stay boyant. Anyway!
AMD AM2 chipset Mother boards.
Ah Nforce 5 has arrived, and with it comes DDR2 system memory! So far it looks to be another rock solid edition of Nvidia engineering as far as mother boards go. Except there is one problem... You are going to need to purchase a 4800+ CPU to even meet the data needs of the new 800MHZ memory! Which isn't so much the case with dual core CPU's with SLI cards, but still this mother board series is so anti-bottleneck that any serious attempt at anything but a 2,000+ dollar gaming system won't even scratch the capabilities of the RAM! I like this a lot, I'm all about the overkill! I'm also a AMD guy myself, not discouraging the use of Intel CPU's. By all means they are good competition for AMD, but I just find it funny that to this day a 2.2GHZ clocked AMD CPU out paces a 3.2GHZ Intel CPU. This is all due to efficiency, which I'll pay for any day. Less GHZ = less power consumption, still just as fast but that means less heat, less heat means less wear and tear and more happy gore kill time, which means more happy haha for me! I still like Intel products, but they are more of a mass producing company than an innovator. I'd really like to see IBM get seriously back into the CPU market, they'd make a killing if they just had a X64 compatible competitor! Also goes to show that AMD, albeit smaller than both of those companies, is still capable of making change in the market. Intel is still having problems with a 32 Bit capable 64 bit CPU inside a good price range. But price also seems to be a problem with AMD now... Used to be my primary buying factor, but efficiency and quality took the front seat to that. Which brings me to ::drool::
AMD 64 X2 AM2 CPUs.
Just saying the word dual core makes me shiver. Two CPU's touching each other and getting all hot, doing jump sequences and memory hops between their two luscious cache dies... ::cough:: Ok sorry, I'll try and not do that bullshit again hahaha. Yeah, even though hyper threading allows me to simulate multi-threading dual core hyper threading systems DROOL!
I did catch an article recently state Intel just released a new "D core cpu" 750 or 760 Intel D "dual core" CPU. Thing is this thing is massively overclockable! Oh and it is 130 dollars... But that still isn't going to make me stray from AMD.... Kind of the same reason I stick with Nvidia, they are the highest endorsed media technology developer in the industry. They might not make the fastest cards always, but they will be compatible with EVERYTHING! The old, the new, the not yet created, just everything. Which is why the X Box 360 is in the situation it is in now. They switched from an Nvidia GPU to an ATI GPU over a contract bid. They never saw this as a potential problem. Of course when Nvidia programmed data is interpreted by an ATI GPU, even the GPU says WTF. Which is why we have these issues now with the backwards compatibility updates. ATI isn't a bad company, they just don't hold the same place in the market. It used to be that 2, 3, even 4 chip manufacturers could compete in a market and the gaming industry would just mold around it. No so anymore, there is only room for one. Due to High Def everything, the cost of developing for multiple platforms and API's grew exponentially. Now we just have one main company and a company trying to either be like the "one" or cut their own path.
ATI truthfully said creates graphics cards that are equally expensive, equally sized, equally as fast, create more heat, drain more power, contain twice as many pixel shaders, and render at a higher quality than Nvidia. But ATI's cards don't stand up well in adverse conditions. Where-as they will get 90FPS here at 1600X1200 they get 88 at a lower resolution, or at the enabling of a single graphical effect. Nvidia products are a bit more robust, where you see an ATI slow down (not lose it's graphical goodness just slow down.) You see a Nvidia card barely budge, especially in SLI vs Crossfire situations. ATI cards can do HDR and AA at the same time, but Nvidia can do Transparency AA, AF, Bloom, and parallax at the exact same time at the same frame rate and resolution. It's all really about who is closer to DX10 spec for me. But anyway!
Creative sound cards.
I do want to pose this question. Can anyone tell the difference between a SB live or and Audigy? Can you sit down at a 2 or 4 speaker configuration and say "Wow I can really hear the difference!" I've not been able to tell the difference since cards went 96KHZ X 24Bit. Sure the new X does 64 bit, but uh, have you listened to Doom 3? EAX 2 sounds just FINE! I've heard THX qualified rigs plugged into SB Live 5.1s and I have to say, it isn't worth the extra 200 dollars to go 64bit 96KHZ! What do you think? I'm just swapping my Audigy 1 over when I rebuild.
I'm so glad that SCSI is dead! I don't think I could stand another day where I had to configure a SCSI drive just to kick ass. These things should be kick ass out of the box! It was this that drove me to return to IDE just to take the load time performance hit. 300MB/s on drive transfer is really fast, but from what I've seen so far it seems that unless you have 16MB of on drive cache you're looking at a performance hit. I talked to some of my friends about it, and Joshua, yes him again, purchased a SATA 300 drive recently with 8MB cache. He said it can't keep up with his 16MB 250 GB WD he bought way before this drive. Anyone else experiencing this?
How much is too much for a gaming rig? I wonder where the market sits now as far as average consumer expenditure on gaming rigs VS let's say the overall high end consumer (people with TOO MUCH money.) I'm currently allowing myself for 1600-1800 as far as cost goes. I consider what I'm getting a mild deal to slight jipp, but that is vs my budget PC I did in comparison about 2 years ago for my friend.
AMD 64 X2 4800+ AM2
MSI AM2 Nforce 5 (550) Mother Board
2GB DDR2 PC6400
250GB SATA 2 (300) Wester Digital HDD
Geforce 7950 GX2 XXX PCI-E 16X w/ 1GB DDR3 Mem
Pioneer DVD-R/W Dual layer with Lightscribe
3 80MM ThermalTake SmartFan 2 fans
1 120MM ThermalTake SmartFan 2 fan
ThermalTake SmartFan 2 550 Watt Power Supply
everything else is a swap
Sound card/wireless/modem/tv tuner card/case
But it seems to be hovering right at 1750 with over night.
Best thing is that this thing could run oblivion twice at the same time, for real lol. All other spare parts get dedicated to my mother's PC, which is still overkill. Bright side being that my church is getting a new computer out of this deal too (my mom's old one, which is mine prior to this one I'm on now.)
Anyway, this sleep deprived post is ending now.
I want a console version of WoW. I know it aint going to happen (because they said it aint going to happen), but I want it, all the same.
Look Blizzard, my 360 has two nifty USB ports RIGHT ON THE FRIGGIN FRONT OF THE MACHINE, and they are both USB keyboard/mouse compatible. You wouldn't have to dumb down your game or even alter it in any way to accomodate those of us who can't afford to game on multiple platforms. And know what else? I don't buy your explanation that Live couldn't handle interacting with the PC servers - it works perfectly fine for FFXI (which sucks, btw - it would be NO competition for WoW).
Sorry, just ranting a bit because I miss my paladin. Ignore me.
Well, there are two games I've been playing the crap out of recently while I wait for the next Oblivion expansion pack, Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis
(Couldn't they just call it Ping Pong?) and Hitman: Blood Money
Table Tennis is an awesome game for 40 bucks, but if your ignoring the price, the lack of enviromental differences and a create-a-character option are a drawback. Otherwise, it's very addictive. The control scheme is great, allowing you to completely focus on the game and forget that you have to move the sticks to play the game. If you're dying to play a game for the 360 and are low on cash, I would recommend this. The online play is great as well.
Hitman: Blood Money is pretty good. 360 owners might be disappointed that the graphics aren't truely next gen, but it's definitly better than the PS2 version. A new notoriety system is in effect to punish those who are content with just finishing a level, not finishing it the best way possible. On the first level (after the training mission) I scored a perfect Silent Assassin rating. That means no kills, no shots, no alerts and no witnesses. Just 2 "accidents" (I dropped some barrels on one guy and pushed another out the window, only drugging two guards for their suits...). If it's anything like the other hitman series games though, I will likely be pulling my hair out at the end because I refuse to accept anything besides Silent Assassin. I might post a movie of the Vinyard mission if anyone is interested.
E3 had quite a show this year. In paticular, Microsoft let loose a lineup of first and third party games that they hope will ensure the 360 becomes the number 1 console in america.Gears of War
is a first person shooter for the 360, and one of the first good examples of what the 360 can do. The plot sounds a little familiar, but this isn't a "plot" kinda game...
Here's an E3 press confence about the game. Current release date is 10/2/06.Halo 3
sports next gen graphics, but the trailer released on XboxLive was less than informative. Current release date is 1/2007.Alan Wake
, recieved some of the most attention at E3 and along with Gears of War was referred to as one of the most anticipated titles. Although some of the graphics look good, he still suffers from "GTA Hands". Programmers will start getting away from that in the future, at least in instances where you are close enough to notice that their hands only bend in the middle and have no articulated fingers. Nonetheless, it promises to have a movie like plot that will drive the game, instead of the game driving the plot.
Shadowrun is making it's return a billion years after the first one. It's predecessor was one of my favorite Genesis games. Shadowrun for the 360 will be a multiplayer first person shooter that takes place in between technology and magic. The FPS part is the part that bugs me...
A lot of xbox players often ask "Where are all the foreign cartoon creatures with the cute noises?!". Well, if you absoloutly must, Viva Pinata
is for you. Seriously though, it's from Rare and it looks like a nice change of pace to the charectors we're used to seeing in games like that.
In addition, they announced that not only has sega, namco and a few others signed on to release all the old favorites, but a lot of third party shareware developers will be producing for XboxLive. Personally, I'm pretty excited about the future for us 360's. I think we're gonna end up with the best system out there. Too bad were gonna have to listen to those damn nintendo fans for another five years... Oh well, we'll get 'em next time!
I've been seeing a painful trend over the last 10 years, and may I start by creating a perspective?
15 years ago, Lotus Smart Suite was pretty much the premier alternative to Word Perfect. The program was 9 floppy disks to install and overall about 20 MBs after being installed. Then why is it that Microsoft Word is 390 MB, when they share mostly 95% of all the same acting characteristics?
Security, today windows XP is so insecure that programs often include their own line of security. A problem that hasn't been addressed for many years, aside from the 100MB patches Microsoft releases almost annually!
Games have fallen into this same kind of bloat, where a game can be designed to draw and represent data. They are designed to push the limits of the hardware they are to be played on. But what happens when games are the only driving force behind hardware research? We hardly make economic use of our processors, sound cards, and even video cards these days. So why do you need a new Geforce 7800 or AT X1800X? Answer is you don't, we've hardly even begun to scratch the nuances of the boards of yesterday to even require we move forward with tomorrows. The fact that we don't stop and smell the roses only leads to the progression of a problem! That problem being that when the trend is set ahead of the demand, you are never truly experiencing a product. For example, Doom 3 was programmed for years to be the graphical bar and when it was release it was 3 CD s full of data. Doom 3 is a small game for what it does! 4 years in the making a game/graphics demo called kriegger designed by 4 crazy Germans and weighing in at 97KB wasn't a graphical equal but could be seen as proof of the effects of bloat.
At 97KB the game had sound, music, animations, and utilized most direct x 9 functions where-as doom 3 required 1.5GB to do the same. Now given the Kriegger game is only one level, but I can't imagine if in the same scope as doom 3 it being more than 20MB. It wouldn't look as good, but I have to tell you it makes more use of the CPU and video card than most games out there now. 40% of the time when you are lagging in a game, it is because of incompatibility between your system and the spec system they designed for. 50% of it is bottlenecks in the system, and only 10% would require you to truly upgrade...
Why do we insist of running the same 2GB of data through our computers and consoles when the same thing could be represented at half the size? Why isn't there an active study on the effects of gaming on hardware trends? Or the economic effect that has to have each developer paying to have an up to date dev unit ever month? I only see a decline in possibilities when someone announces a new technology, mainly because it only allows one to remain unchallenged. Where is the creativity scope when you have no constraints on where to start? Look at the things that are created in a scope or realm of technical specs! Look at the last year of life of any previous console versus the first...
This is all just proof of what happens when you have 100 million dollars to make something. Those forced to operate inside of a budget cut trim and tweak all their projects. The true pioneers are the poorer, smaller companies in this industry. For example, see project offset...
Here is a dev group that started with 3 people, and they've accomplished MUCH. I fear they may be bought, and and their proverbial offering they could make to the industry will be ripped from them like a body's innards in a flock of buzzards. Which only will lead to more bloat and bastardized forms of perfectly good working code. Why program 40 lines when you could do the same thing in 10? Why make a 1024x1024 texture when a 512x512 with a 256x256 bump texture can do the same work in half the operations?
not meant to be informative, more to start a debate.)
Just on a quick note, who else is tired of those godforsaken Mac/PC ad's!
They drive me crazy. Either Apple's gonna start pushing OSX for the PC, or Microsoft's gonna push windows for the Mac...